Seasonings

I got the baingans right tonight
(The trick is not to heat the oil
Too much) and the kala namak
Was the perfect finishing touch.
The keema also turned out quite
Well. You could hardly tell
The difference from the way
Mom used to make it. Today
I remembered how much
Dad loved the baingan slices.
So dinner turned out well (it was just
A question of adjusting memory
To spices).

 

Solitaire

Every time I lay them out I hear her.
“See? You were asking who
Would have the patience to
Do this by hand!” Near her,
My niece wonders at my patience.
And in the midst of the ritual
I wonder if she remembers that
It was called Patience for a reason.
Or used to be. Now we call it
Solitaire. A game you play
With yourself. Where it’s treason
To cheat, I hear Janis Ian
Say. I’ve never yet played it
Without “17” in my head. “Those
Of us with ravaged faces, lacking
In the social graces.” I’ve made it,
I think, this far, as I watch the game
Slowly and surely, go nowhere.
Identical backs turn up the same
Numbers in surprising ways. When
I win, I turn my reproachful gaze
On the bemused man, unaware
That he’s going to be hit with it again:
The lucky in love rule. “Who were
You thinking of? How come I won?”
Solitaire, I’m a diamond. Second to none.

To Observe Silence on Earth Day

I read today that every tree
Has its own, unique, song. And I imagine
Choirs in the forests, full-throated,
But only when the last human
Is gone. Because music, thus noted,
Thus aired, thus floated,
Cannot possibly be heard for free.

Maybe it’s too late to pay our dues
Maybe those tall singers dance
To another muse. Maybe their song
Is not something we can choose
To be. Because music thus spoken,
Thus worded, thus broken,
Cannot possibly be heard for a fee.

Courage II (Or: What the Lady M can teach us on Shakespeare’s birthday)

“But screw your courage
To the sticking place”, she said,
And I think of my fear as
Something you can embed –
A small, innocuous wooden peg.
Of my grief as a
Finely tuned thing, a string
Instrument, where each
Memory is stretched
Clear and fixed
At its appointed pitch
Across a body delicately
Calibrated, the mind a sturdy
Soundpost, designated
Survivor, carved with incisions
That each anxiety may breathe
And all, in resonated precision
Hum in its wake
And I take
My fate in my hands
Like a bow on the wing,
And courage is the song
That the strung heart sings.

This Is What I Learnt Today

One, mountains that look
Quite pretty from your window
Are a mere white line on your phone.
Two, people in hot countries far away
Are not amused at being shown
Mountains on FaceTime. Three,
If you have slippers, socks, and a puppy
Eventually they will all lie crumpled
And sodden on the balcony. Four,
If you’ve learnt much more,
Set it aside for tomorrow, so that
Each full day may lend its fullness
For a still empty day to borrow.